The Poverty Alleviation Fund is currently in a state of abeyance and could possibly be discontinued.
This was revealed today by Coordinator of the Poverty Alleviation and Reduction Programme, Andrew Pollard who said the fund had been temporarily suspended by Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of People Empowerment and Elderly Affairs, Gabrielle Springer.
Speaking before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) this afternoon, Pollard said Springer took the action following the Auditor General Report which highlighted instances of misappropriation of funds from the fund.
In that report – 2007 to 2018 – the Auditor General disclosed that there had been disbursements from the fund that seemed not to readily fit the alleviation of poverty such as disbursements for mortgage arrears, a marriage seminar and sponsorship of shows.
The Auditor General lamented that criteria to approve the disbursements were not provided.
He said Springer, who took over in 2018, had concerns about the seeming lack of criteria for approving the assistance and the type of assistance being provided.
“The fund has been put in abeyance by the PS once she came and found and had challenges with how persons were accessing the fund. That part of the Poverty and Alleviation Programme has not been operational since 2019 because the PS halted the operations,” Pollard said when questioned by PAC chairman Bishop Joseph Atherley.
When questioned by Minister of Tourism and International Transport Senator Lisa Cummins about the Auditor General’s recommendation that the ministry determine the future role of the fund, Pollard said an assessment had been done by the ministry.
He said one of the options suggested was the fund’s discontinuation.
“We did look at the fund. We have a report that has been submitted to our minister and we have more or less two options. One is to discontinue the fund or see how best it can be incorporated.
“I should tell you that our ministry is currently going through the process of a new organisation and rationalisation of the social services, particularly the National Disabilities Unit, the National Assistance Board, the Welfare Department and the Child Care Board, so this is how we are trying to look at those recommendations to put in place,” Pollard said. [email protected]